I’ve come to the realisation that Anne Shirley/Blythe – irrepressible heroine of LM Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” series has been a model for me unwittingly. While I’ve always marched to the beat of my own orchestra, I never fully understood the impact that the Anne Books had on my life until I began re-reading them lately. To say I see so much of Anne in Me or Me in Anne would be – somehow – and understatement. I know that I identified with Anne as a young girl. Most likely because she was an orphan and I was essentially an orphan – never knowing my biological parents.
I reveled in her escapades and the simple life of P.E. Island created such an impression on me that as I sit here in my 80+ year old home writing my “life-book” I see how much Anne has shaped my life. Granted, I’m not a slender auburn-haired beauty with grey eyes, but I think in my own way I’m what some people would call beautiful.
I love my home and "simple" life. And in a way I long for simpler times. I presume that is why when I settled down, I chose a small, quaint town with a town square and lovely historic homes on a large lake that is part of a main waterway. Perhaps subconsciously, I had moved to “my” Avonlea with its’ Lake of Shining Waters.
I revel in the joy of taking my children into our expansive yard and letting them frolic under the trees. As I watch them at play, I’m transported to a time when children roamed safely and freely about and took exercise under the wide sky with no raging fear of two-legged “predators” and scraped knees were a common occurrence. It gives me great joy to see the flush of sun-kissed cheeks and smell the little-girl-who-has-been-playing-outside smell.
My windows are flung wide to the balmy breezes of early fall and the dappled shadows play on the walls of my children’s room as they build castles and cakes and let their imaginations run wild. Technology has not spoiled my children as it has so many others. While overhead fans gently turn to move the fresh air from floor to ceiling and back the baby lies in his crib watching the fan blades turn and giggles at them. Who knows what thoughts he thinks at this tender age? It is quite evident he is a great thinker for you can see the “wheels turn” in his head.
All my children have been inveterately curious. A hundred and one times a day I hear “Mommy, why does…?”, “Why is …?” “Is that …?” “How does that …?” To be sure, it tries my patience at times to be looked upon as the Oracle of Delphi. I’m merely Mommy, Mother, Mom. I’m not the wisest person in the world – even though at times I pretend to be.
As I made my bed this morning, I found myself walking backward in time and wondering if the family who first lived here had a bedstead like ours. Ours is solid cast iron (it weighs more than I do and that’s considerable) and is roughly the right time period, although it could predate the Turn of the (19th) Century. With it’s freshly laundered white sheets (organic bamboo) and white woven coverlet and it’s freshly plumped pillows, I felt as if I was looking at someone else’s marriage bed and not my own. Surely I was not capable of making a bed. And cheerfully at that!
Immediately preceding my bed-making I had spent the morning with the children grooming them and playing with them and watching a movie with them in their play room. Now THAT is quite the departure from the “more simple life” yet in a way, it is our simple life. Actually, for a few days running we've done the "clean the room, eat our lunch outside, come inside and get cleaned up and then play a while, rest awahile and wait for daddy to come home" routine. While the baby rolled on the play room carpet and chewed on the Little People, I dressed and combed the hair of the girls and generally had a good time. We were watching a Christmas music video and were enjoying singing Christmas Carols even though it’s much too early for that. All Hallow’s Eve Day isn’t exactly the First Day of Christmas, but we love Christmas with all our hearts and so as soon as the first few breezes of Fall start to blow, out come the carols and videos and awa’ wi’ us.
A few moments ago, I ran to the kitchen for a “cuppa” and as I was making my tea – so different from then! – I surveyed my kitchen and realized we have SO much more to ease our troubles and make life convenient and yet we have less time for relaxation or at least we can’t find the time for relaxation. Nor are we satisfied with simple things like walks down the lane or a quiet night on the sofa watching the fireplace. We’ve become consumed by technology to the point that we’d much rather view a beautiful sunset in High Definition on a 42” television screen than walk outside and watch the real thing.
The game console with its’ online chat rooms has replaced lively get-togethers of friends to laugh and joke and converse. Now we use a web-cam to interact with people we barely know and tell our most intimate thoughts, dreams and aspirations via internet discussion fora. As a community we’ve largely become disjointed – disconnected from each other and from reality. We’ve traded simplicity and hope for technology and apathy. We don’t care for our fellow man because he’s just some amorphous being out “there” somewhere. We rarely know our neighbors even if we want to. Houses are shut up tight against the intrusion of unwanted door-to-door peddlers of foods, magazines, religion and what-not. Consequently we’re segmented as a society.
I count it as shameful that the closest friends I have (outside family) are internet friends – many of whom I’ve never seen in “real” life outside of their “signature” pictures. I’ve a passing acquaintance with a few of my neighbors (and their pets) as well as many shopkeepers downtown, but other than that, I don’t know many people. Of course there’s the moms at dance class… Which brings me to another topic…
Why is it we’re so overscheduled as a society? What benefit is there to having so many activities that we’ve scarcely time or room to breathe? Is it a consequence of “The 80s”? You know the time period when it was all-important to get so many activities on your high school transcript so that you could be looked upon favorably by the college of your choosing? At what point does the merry-go-round stop? When we all get sick to our stomachs and scream “Stop the world! I want to get off”?
I, for one, refuse to get on the merry-go-round in the first place. I’m not going there (so to speak). I like – nay – LOVE my slow little corner of the universe. And my high-speed internet connection. I’m such a hypocrite. I can’t live without my internet, but yet I can’t live without my quaint old house in my quaint old neighborhood where I drive my quaint retro car to our quaint little shops with their quaint little Wi-Fi connections.
My goal this season is to get out there and get to know – really know my town and it’s residents as best I can. While I will remain faithful to my email and my internet friends, know that I’m developing a sense of community in “real” life as well. I want to be able to draw the amorphous to the concrete. Give a sense of community to those who only “know” me by my “username” and get to know my community at large better. Through my own eyes and through the lens of my camera as well as through the power of the pen (or keyboard).
So I’m apologizing in advance if I’m away and don’t update like you think I should. I have a life and want to live it to it’s fullest potential, but I also want to share it with you. In the immortal words of Thumper’s Father to his long-eared son: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all”. So I’m off to find the good in the world. The redeeming. The higher, truer… The holy.
If that seems too lofty a goal, I say “You either find what you are looking for, or IT finds you”.